TORONTO — At some inexact point on the baseball calendar, a bad start to a season becomes a bad year. The Yankees, if they haven’t already hit that date, are rapidly approaching it.
With their offense again wasting a solid outing by a starting pitcher, the Yankees were swept out of Rogers Centre by the Blue Jays, 7-0, Wednesday night, their downward spiral showing no end in sight.
“No, it doesn’t feel early (anymore),” said Alex Rodriguez, who went 1-for-4 with a double. “I think everyone in here feels frustrated. Pitchers have done a phenomenal job keeping us in games and giving us an opportunity to win games, and collectively we’re just not getting it done.”
Joe Girardi’s team has lost six of eight to fall to 24-28 after reaching the .500 mark May 24.
“You keep talking to guys, you keep working,” Girardi said. “I might get frustrated when we lose, but I don’t ever feel helpless.”
The rotation, at times, might feel differently. Masahiro Tanaka was the latest starter to be victimized by the lifeless bat society, falling to 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA after allowing two runs (one earned) and seven hits in six innings.
“Nothing changes for me,” Tanaka, through his translator, said of pitching with a nonexistent offense. “I try to put up zeros as much as possible regardless of what the offense is doing.”
Kirby Yates and Nick Goody took a blowtorch to the game in the seventh, allowing five runs (Yates was charged with four) and turning a 2-0 deficit into a 7-0 rout.
The Yankees, who were second-to-last in the American League in runs coming in (193), scored only three in the series and five in their last four games.
“It’s surprising, disappointing, frustrating, you can throw a lot of words in there,” said Brett Gardner, who went 0-for-3 to extend his slump to 0-for-24. “But nobody’s going to sit around and feel sorry for you when things aren’t going well. We have to keep grinding away and hopefully things will change.”
Toronto (29-26), which has won seven of eight, got 6 2⁄3 shutout innings from Aaron Sanchez (5-1, 2.99), who allowed seven hits. The Yankees did have their chances against him but went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine.
“You talk about tonight, we hit balls hard and had nothing to show for it,” said hitting coach Alan Cockrell, sounding a familiar refrain. “You just want to keep putting on good at-bats and eventually we’re going to start getting those hits.”
The Blue Jays snapped the scoreless tie in the fifth. Darwin Barney (three hits) led off with a single and went to second on Jose Bautista’s groundout to third. Josh Donaldson punched Tanaka’s hanging, 1-and-2 slider to right to make it 1-0.
Michael Saunders started the sixth by slicing a double to left, and Justin Smoak followed with a liner to center that Jacoby Ellsbury flat-out dropped and bobbled a few times, putting runners at the corners. Russell Martin bounced into a double play as Saunders scored, making it 2-0.
“I just missed it,” Ellsbury said. “The ball took a hard left on me and I wasn’t able to make the play.”
The Yankees got Sanchez out of the game in the seventh, but that didn’t dramatically alter their cause. Ronald Torreyes, starting at second for Starlin Castro, singled with one out, as did Ellsbury. After Gardner flied out, John Gibbons called on righthander Jason Grilli, acquired Tuesday from the Braves.
Facing Carlos Beltran, Grilli fell behind 2-and-1 before getting the switch hitter to line to center for the third out.
“I’ve tried to shake the order up, I’ve tried to play different guys, make sure guys are rested,” Girardi said. “The bottom line is these are our guys. They’re capable of doing it, we’re just not doing it right now.”